Internet Etiquette
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We expect other drivers to observe the rules of the road and the same is true as we travel through cyberspace. Here are a few pointers to help you out:

· Avoid writing messages using all caps. IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE SHOUTING! 

· To add humor and personality to your messages, use smileys, also known as emoticons, expressions you create from the characters on your keyboard. A few popular ones include: 
 

:-)
:-e
:-(
:-<
:-o
:-D
:-@
;-)
:-I
Happy
Disappointed
Sad
Mad
Surprised
Laughing
Screaming
Winking
Indifferent

· Keep your communications to the point. Some people pay for Internet access by the hour. The longer it takes to read your messages, the more it may cost them. This is true whether you post messages to a newsgroup or a mailing list.

· Remember that anything you post to a newsgroup or type into a chat session is a public comment. You never know who's reading it, or who may copy it and spread it around. 

· When posting a message to a public bulletin board, forum, or newsgroup, stick to the topic. Don't indiscriminately post unrelated comments, or worse--advertisements--to every newsgroup you can think of. This practice, known as spamming, will quickly lead to another unpleasant Internet practice, flaming. What is flaming? Sometimes you might offend someone unintentionally. Be prepared to receive some angry e-mail or be treated rudely in a public discussion. This is called being flamed. If you attack back, you will spark a flame war. To contain the heat, the best response usually is no response at all.  If you send it in an e-mail, clearly identify it in the subject line. That way people who aren't interested can delete it. 

· To keep messages short, use some common abbreviations: 

<BTW> means "by the way." 
A <G> enclosed in brackets indicates grinning. 
A good one to keep handy in case you're worried about offending someone is <IMHO> -- In My Humble Opinion. 
One of our favorites is <ROTFL>, which stands for Rolling on the Floor Laughing. 

· FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) are handy documents to read before asking questions. You should always consult them whenever available. 

Netiquette isn't something you learn overnight, so don't let your fear of not knowing cyber-protocol hold you back. 
Responsibility in a Virtual World.  The Internet has made it possible for people all around the world to connect with each other in meaningful ways. Whether for research, education, business, or fun, the Internet has changed how many of us live, work, and play, in ways we may not even be fully aware of. 

As the Internet continues to evolve, so do the issues that impact the way we use it. Whether you are the consummate hacker or just an occasional driver on the information highway, you play a role in determining the future direction of this road. From privacy, security and freedom of speech, to honesty and consideration in the way we interact with others, we all have a responsibility to preserve and protect its unique character. That means recognizing that while the medium is in many ways a reflection of the physical world, it is in other ways, fundamentally different--manifesting its own customs and practices.


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